Anxiety that comes with change

As I am writing these words, the start of my big trip to South America is just a few hours away. Inevitably anxiety is starting to build up every single time before embarking on a new adventure, no matter if this is a big trip or some other type of transition in my life. From many discussions with friends and family, I know that it is a quite common phenomenon for doubts to creep in shortly before a big change is about to unfold.

Unfortunately, we often do not give ourselves the permission to talk about this anxiety. Because we tend to compare our everyday life to the highlight reel of others, we think these feelings are not supposed to be there. However, only by sharing and talking about these fears and doubts are we able to overcome them. We can reframe our anxiety and understand that we are not the only ones dealing with it.

Getting out of the comfort zone

The anxiety we feel before a big change simply indicates that we are stepping out of our comfort zone, and our brain is desperately struggling to keep us within the “secured and known parameters”. Staying in our comfort zone offers us a state of mental security. Yet it is outside our comfort zone where the magic happens.

In today’s society stepping out of your comfort zone is heavily promoted. We are confronted with tons of inspirational quotes that encourage us to do something extraordinary or completely new every day. And don’t get me wrong, I love reading inspiring quotes as well. It does, however, not make sense to push yourself extremely hard or too far out of your comfort zone. A place outside your comfort zone can be an incredibly rewarding place to be, as long as you do not tip the scales too far. It is essential to have in mind that everybody’s comfort zone is different, and what may help to broaden your horizons may paralyze someone else.

Everybody’s comfort zone is different

Be mindful, focus on you and to stop comparing yourself to others. In the beginning it is advisable to take little steps. There are simply so many different possibilities to stretch your personal boundaries. Learning a new language or a new skill like dancing salsa for example. For me, traveling is a great way to broaden my perspective and gain more insights into who I am and what I am passionate about. Upon return from my first solo trip to the US during my teenage years, my self-confidence was boosted in a way that the aircraft would have not needed any fuel power to take me back to Europe. Even though I had to cope with a few uncomfortable, new experiences I was able to deal with them.

As a first step, the goal is to define which experiences are outside but close to your comfort zone.  Next give yourself a little nudge to get past the mental blocks that tell you to stay comfortable.  Of course not everything will be smooth sailing. I am sure that some unforeseen things will happen on my big trip. And, I will need to handle these situations as well.

Simply take little steps and you will find that stepping outside your comfort zone is very rewarding. It not only boosts your self-confidence but also builds profound trust in yourself and your abilities. I am very much looking forward to sharing my discoveries along the road with you. I am off to South America now and will be reporting soon from Lima/Perú!

Gehe nicht immer den vorgezeichneten Weg, der nur dorthin führt, wo bereits andere gegangen sind.

— (G. Bell)